Yesterday I walked from home, SE19 to Charring Cross. I did the 7.5miles in 2.5hours. Walking through London is a completely different experience to traveling through it on a bus/tube/train/motorbike/taxi. You get more of a sense of how its made up of a patchwork of vibrant and culturally diverse towns and communities. The energy, sounds, pace and smells change as you move from one street to the next.
There's something about walking that helps me work things out, or should I say 'walk things out'. I was talking about this with the lovely Antoinette and Robert this week. They've recently set up yoga sweet yoga at Harmony Harbour (where I'm currently teaching kundalini yoga) and its one of those precious corners of London where you can find a copy of Positive News. This quarter's issue contains an article by Adam Weymouth, a young man who walked through 12 countries, from the village of Whiteparish, near Salisbury, to Istanbul. That's 5000km and it took him 8 months. It makes the Camino seem like a shlep to the corner store for a pint of milk.
Adam refers to an idea from Rebecca Solnit's book, Wanderlust. Our minds work at 3 miles per hour - the speed we walk at - so our increasing obsession with speed is fracturing our minds and our connection to each other and the land. That rings true to me. Since reading In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore about 4 years ago I've struggled to justify the relentless pace of city life in the 21st century. It will be interesting to see what slowing down on the road does to my perspective.
While I welcome the chance to slow down and take stock I'm also daunted by the enormity of the pending journey. If I start to feel anxious I think about Adam Weymouth's 5000km hike, or Satish Kumar's 8000 mile peace walk and it gives me a sense of perspective. Or I think of the (much faster paced) marathon monks of Japan who cover 80km a day for 100 days. They hardly sleep, eat or stop to catch their breath and they do it all in agonizingly uncomfortable footwear. How lucky I am to be able to take it slow, get some perspective and get back in touch with the land and the trees in the company of a good friend while wearing boots that were made for walking.